Report: No Police Officers At V Festival 2017

V Festival (Staffordshire)
– V Festival (Staffordshire)

Festival Republic reportedly didn’t put up the money to pay for police on site at the South England edition of V Festival 2017, which went down Aug. 19-20 at Hylands Park in Essex.

The BBC program Victoria Derbyshire obtained documents from Chelmsford city council, which is in charge of V Festival’s South England site (the festival traditionally takes place at two locations over the same weekend, the other one being Weston Park, Staffordshire).

The documents reportedly show that Festival Republic did not reach an agreement on the level of and costs for policing on site at V Festival 2017.

In 2016, the promoter spent £138,000 ($185,000) on special police services. But this year’s request submitted for police services at a cost of £100,000 ($134,000) came to nothing. “As a result, no police officers were stationed on site,” the report states.

Police was reportedly patrolling outside the festival barriers, but not within the premises

The documents offer insight into Chelmsford city council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meetings, during which it became apparent that festivalgoers had to rely on the standard 101 emergency number to call police in case of an emergency on site.

Meeting notes also show that the vetting of staff was still ongoing when staff had already arrived on site, and that “Essex Police did not believe its tactical plan for security at the event had been met by the Safety Advisory Group and festival organizers.”

Both Essex Police and Chelmsford council made rather non-committal statements. Essex Police’s deputy chief constable BJ Harrington said: “I really must stress that the safety of a commercial event like V Festival sits with the organizers. They are licensed by the local authority, and that safety of people attending their event on payment is down to them.

“That doesn’t mean we abandon them. We had a really good working relationship with security, with Chelmsford City Council, to make sure that people who were going there were safe.”

The council said: “The Safety Advisory Group process allows a transparent and robust examination of all safety issues prior to and during the festival to ensure any risk to safety is properly managed and mitigated.

“The lack of agreement on special police services was a risk which the festival promoter resolved through alternative means to the satisfaction of the Safety Advisory Group.”

Another council representative is quoted as saying that “last minute arrangements for this year’s festival were unacceptable and this must be improved upon from now on. (…) The 2018 event must be planned well in advance, and an agreement in principle can be made before tickets sales are known.”

It is still unclear, what the 2018 edition of the event will look like. In October it was announced that Virgin was pulling out of VFestival as a sponsor.

Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn said back then that a new name would be announced in November, which did not happen. The 2018 edition is said to expand to a three-day event with both the southern and northern legs remaining.

Pollstar has reached out to both Festival Republic and parent company Live Nation for comment.